Wednesday, December 24, 2003


Libya's decision to give up its WMD programs and allow UN inspectors in the country have Egypt and Syria scrambling:

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad flew to Egypt on Wednesday as major events in the region put pressure on Damascus.
He and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are scheduled to consider Libya's move to give up banned weapons programmes, the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and US pressure on Syria.

Egyptian Prime Minister Ataf Obeid said the summit came at a "critical time".

Mr Assad has recently made overtures to both Israel and Washington, which is threatening Syria with sanctions.

The Syrian Government called for talks with the US after President George W Bush approved a law threatening punishment if Syria does not rein in militants and stop seeking weapons of mass destruction.

Syria denies both sets of allegations.

Damascus said it wanted "a frank and constructive dialogue" over the law, which could ban US exports to Syria and freeze Syria's assets in the US.

Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi brought the issue of weapons of mass destruction into sharp focus recently by agreeing to give up his arms programmes.

Syria welcomed Libya's move on Tuesday.


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